We’ll wrap up this series today and then start looking more broadly at free agents that interest us here at The Falcoholic, whether or not they have strong ties to members of the front office or coaching staff.
The subject of today’s free agent list is Dwaune Jones, the current assistant director of college scouting for the Falcons. The longtime scout spent 11 years with New Orleans, overlapping with Terry Fontenot there, and then spent four years as Midwest scout with the Ravens. From the team’s 2021 announcement regarding his hiring:
Jones spent the last four seasons with the Ravens as a college scout covering schools in the Midwest region. He scouted the Big Ten and MAC, plus some schools in the SEC, Conference USA and ACC conferences. Players that were selected in his area include Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Malik Harrison and Ben Bredeson. Jones also evaluated and provided cross-checking evaluation reports for the scouting department.
Jones will be instrumental for this team’s upcoming draft class, obviously, but he may also bang the table for some players he scouted, evaluated, or just got to know during his time in Baltimore. Let’s take a look at a few of those players today.
CB Anthony Averett
A 14 game starter in 2021 after being pressed into action due to injury, Averett had his adventures in coverage but is just 27 years old, showed an opportunistic streak with three interceptions and 11 pass deflections, and could give the Falcons a physical starter with some upside opposite A.J. Terrell. He was targeted at one of the highest rates in football from teams trying to pick on him, yet he only allowed a 77.5 passer rating, and his ability to punish quarterbacks for targeting him frequently would make him a nice complement to a corner absolutely nobody is going to be targeting in 2022.
OLB Justin Houston
He didn’t overlap with Jones at all in Baltimore, so this is a bit of stretch. It’s a stretch I figure you guys will be okay with me making, though.
Houston will be 33 years old in 2022, but he still remains an effective piece of a pass rush rotation, putting up 4.5 sacks last year and delivering more pressures (per Pro Football Reference) than any Falcons player managed in 2021. Until the day he retires, I will stump for Houston to spend some time in Atlanta, and I’m doing it again here.
DT Brandon Williams
The Falcons may simply elect to affordably re-sign Anthony Rush to fill the nose tackle role in the defense, but they may be looking for a more established option as well. Dean Pees knows Brandon Williams well, and Williams will both be 33 years old and coming off a lackluster season by his standards, so he may wind up being more affordable for a spendthrift Falcons team. From an experience and ability standpoint, he could be an impactful addition even at his age.
OLB Pernell McPhee
McPhee is approaching the end of a long and distinguished career. He only appeared in 10 games last year and picked up a single sack, so obviously you’re not going to build your pass rush around him. This would would be a leadership and reserve signing for the Falcons.
Both Jones and Dean Pees are quite familiar with McPhee, who was a Pees favorite when they were both in Baltimore. If Atlanta’s looking for a veteran who is familiar with his defense and offers a little bit as a pass rusher—and even a little bit might qualify as an upgrade for this Atlanta team—McPhee might be an option on a one year deal.
CB Jimmy Smith
Mostly a reserve at this stage of his career, Smith overlapped with Jones in Baltimore...but also overlapped with Dean Pees when he was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator all those years ago. If the Falcons are looking for a respected veteran leader who can provide them quality snaps in case of injury, they could do a hell of a lot worse than Smith. The question is whether Smith will have any interest in leaving Baltimore if he’s continuing his career.
Who would you sign from this list, or add to it?